Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

OCU announces 2011 Bishop's Scholars





Each year, Oklahoma City University presents the Bishop’s Scholar Award to deserving students as a part of its effort to identify and support academically advanced United Methodist youths who are committed to careers in Christian service to the church.

The university is pleased to recognize three teens as the Bishop’s Scholars for 2011: Hannah Frye, Samantha Erickson, and Leigh Smith.

  • Samantha Erickson comes to OCU from Durant High School, where she was an outstanding student. She specialized in Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre-AP classes, played tennis in the state tournament as a member of the varsity team, and qualified for All-District Band in multiple years.

This drive for excellence also is evident in her activities at First UMC, Durant. Samantha served four years as president of the church youth group and worked in Vacation Bible School.

However, mission work truly has captured her heart. Her pastor at the time of her nomination, Greg Tolle, noted that she has been on two mission trips out of state and participated in the local mission project, Neighbor 2 Neighbor. Her goal is to help others through medical missions.

  • Serving others seems to be a way of life for Hannah Frye of St. Matthew UMC in Midwest City. She has attended Youth Force, worked in the church’s pumpkin patch and festival, delivered baskets on Christmas Eve to firefighters, and written cards for the homebound—a few examples of her many efforts on behalf of others. She has been an active participant in her church’s youth group and a leader in the worship services.

Her pastor, Ron Perceful, said Hannah announced her call to ministry while giving her testimony in a recent youth-led worship service. This decision grows out of her abiding faith.

At Carl Albert High School, Hannah served as editor of the school newspaper and was named one of the valedictorians of her class.

She stated her goal is to study adolescent development and youth ministry so she can serve as a positive role model to teens in need.

  • Leigh Smith always seems ready to step out in faith. When she was 14, she travelled with a small group from her home church, St. Luke’s UMC in Oklahoma City, to a sister church in Ulyonovsk, Russia. A few years later, she visited Japan as a Rotary Club student ambassador, and she worked at service sites in New York City as part of a St. Luke’s youth mission team.

Leigh’s leadership skills and commitment to excellence attracted notice at school. She was a member of the Westmoore High School track team and was recognized for outstanding academic achievements. St. Luke’s senior pastor, Bob Long, noted the commitment of Leigh and her family to the church and Leigh’s faithfulness in the youth group, where she is often the first one to greet visitors.

Leigh said she desires to be "the hands and feet of God" and she is open to where that ministry might lead her.

United Methodist clergywoman Maggie Ball, OCU vice-president for University-Church Relations, noted that many Bishop’s Scholar applicants who do not receive that award often are eligible for other OCU scholarship assistance and decide to attend our UM-affiliated university. "We encourage all of our clergy and laypersons to identify youth in your congregations who express interest and ability in ministry, and encourage them to apply to become a Bishop’s Scholar and for other scholarships to OCU," said Rev. Ball.


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